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$15M in gold and other valuables stolen in Toronto airport heist

The incident at Toronto Pearson international airport appears to represent one of Canada's bigger heists. As of early Friday, no suspects had been identified.
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Police in Canada are investigating after an air cargo container carrying almost $15 million in gold and other valuables vanished from the Toronto Pearson international airport Monday.

An aircraft that arrived at the often bustling airport in the early evening had been unloaded, with its cargo transported to a holding facility "as per normal procedure," Peel Regional Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn said at a news conference.

What happened to the precious cargo once it was offloaded is a mystery, with Duivesteyn telling reporters it was removed somehow "by illegal means."

The cargo was reported missing to police a short time later and an investigation was launched, he said.

It is not clear exactly how much gold was inside the cargo container or what other valuables it held, but Duivesteyn said the total estimated worth of its contents was just more than $20 million in Canadian currency (around $14.8 million).

"It did contain gold, but was not exclusive to gold and contained other items of monetary value," he said.

Duivesteyn did not expand on where the aircraft carrying the cargo had come from or on its intended final destination.

No suspects had been identified as of early Friday.

The incident appears to represent one of Canada's biggest heists, but it is not the first to unfold at one of the country's airports.

In 1990, another Canadian airport heist made headlines after armed thieves ambushed a private plane and made off with nearly $13.7 million in gold ingots and other valuables, according to past reporting from The Associated Press. The incident was considered one of Canada's largest robberies at the time.

That heist, carried out at Dorval International Airport outside Montreal, reportedly saw at least four men, including one armed with a Soviet-made AK-47 assault rifle, use a stolen garbage truck to tear through a fence, before making off with the goods in stolen vans. A pipe bomb had also exploded miles away under an airport construction trailer, in what police had called a "diversion tactic" at the time.

In 1952, an apparent heist at Malton Airport, which preceded the Toronto Pearson international airport, saw gold bars valued at a total of $215,000 in Canadian currency at the time vanish in a crime that remains unsolved, according to The Toronto Star.

Monday's heist has also drawn references to the maple syrup heist of 2012, which saw nearly 3,000 tons of syrup valued at $18.7 million in Canadian currency stolen from a storage facility in Quebec, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.